Ed Fadely Has Passed


UPDATED: This story was updated with reaction from Fadeley’s family

Ed Fadeley, a longtime Oregon legislator and former state Supreme Court justice, died Sunday night after suffering a heart attack this month.

He was 85.

The Lane County Democrat spent 26 years in the Oregon Legislature, serving as Senate president when he tried to amend the state’s constitution to ban a statewide sales tax. He went on to spend nearly a decade on the state Supreme Court before stepping down amid controversy in 1998.

“He had a real core sense of who he was and what service meant to him in the world,” Shira Fadeley, 52, said of her father.

Family and friends remember Fadeley as a generous, thoughtful and caring man with a booming voice and a love of cigars who only quit smoking once it became illegal in public buildings.

Former legislative and judicial colleagues remembered Fadeley as a bright man with a strong political acumen who fiercely defended his liberal ideals but occasionally lacked people skills.

Later years of his career were punctuated by troubles. Shortly after winning a seat on the court in 1988, Fadeley’s fellow justices formally reprimanded him for violating campaign fundraising rules. Years later, he was accused of workplace misconduct, including sexual harassment.

“Along with all of his warts, and Ed had plenty of them, he served long and honorably,” said Jan Wyers, a legislative colleague.

Wally Carson, a Salem Republican who served as chief justice of the Oregon Supreme Court from 1991 to 2005, spent time across the aisle from Fadeley in the Legislature. At the time, Carson didn’t think much of Fadeley or know him personally. They also had different political views.

But, Carson said, once Fadeley joined the court, they became close.

“I thought the world of him and his wife,” Darian, Carson said.

Fadeley was born in Missouri, and from the age of 14 planned on becoming an attorney.

He attended the University of Missouri, then headed west and graduated from the University of Oregon Law School in 1957. Fadeley finished atop his class.

Fadely was elected to the Oregon House in 1960, serving for a time alongside his first wife, Nancie, a representative from Lane County. Their marriage ended in divorce.

Shira and her brother Charles grew up in Eugene, and she recalled occasionally being dropped off at elementary school on a tandem bicycle when the Legislature wasn’t in session.

Ed Fadeley joined the Oregon Senate in 1963 and was named Senate president in 1983. He lost the seat to John Kitzhaber two years later.

In 1986, he ran for governor, losing in the Democratic primary to Neil Goldschmidt.

Shira served as her father’s campaign manager during the gubernatorial race, and she recalled her father landing support from loggers and environmentalists. “It was neat to see people that weren’t all that involved politically, because here is a regular guy they think they can trust,” she said.

In 1988, he was elected to the state Supreme Court.

The veteran attorney and lawmaker was perhaps best known for his staunch opposition to a state sales tax. He lost a 1983 effort to put a ban in the constitution but scuttled other sales tax efforts.

He exhibited a go-it-alone style, often keeping his votes close to the vest until the eve of a hot-button vote.

Grattan Kerans, a fellow Lane County Democrat and former longtime House speaker, said Fadeley was a “brainy and complex person.”

“When he got something he wanted to have happen, he kept at it, regardless of the cost,” Kerans said. Conversely, he added, “he used all of his brainpower to prevent things that he disagreed with.” Kerans said that included the sales tax fight.

Ted Kulongoski, who served with Fadeley in the Legislature and on the Supreme Court before becoming governor, described Fadeley in 1997 as a “great poker player who never lets you peek at this cards.”

“What I’ve learned about him in the almost 30 years that I’ve known him is that he always has a plan,” Kulongoski said.

Kerans said that as Senate president, Fadeley at times shut out the rest of Legislature, including his own party. “He was not available to anybody, unless you had an overwhelmingly correct, in his opinion, case to make for a position on his bill.”

In 1995, a judicial assistant accused Fadeley of sexual harassment. Fadeley stepped down from the court in 1998 to fight throat cancer, relieving justices of having to discipline him.

At the time, Fadeley told a reporter for The Oregonian that he faced weeks of radiation and was not stepping down to evade the court’s punishment.

”I know what’s true and what isn’t,” he said. ”I’m confident in myself about whether I’m giving good service to the people.”

Carson recalled those times as “awkward,” but said, “I don’t think it was as bad as people remember it, or as it was reported at the time.”

He described his former judicial colleague as a formidable orator and good writer who enjoyed television cameras and the limelight.

Controversy aside, Fadeley was long described as a progressive who looked out for the little guy.

“He was concerned about working people and concerned about people having a say in government,” Mary Ann Holser, vice chairwoman of the Lane County Democratic Committee, said in 1997. “By the same token, he knew how to exercise control and get his agenda through.”

Wyers said Fadeley fought with then-legislator and former Portland Mayor Vera Katz. “They just disagreed about everything.” He was “hard to get along with” Wyers said, but a true progressive of that era.

“In a way, he was a man ahead of his time,” Wyers said, citing Fadeley’s fierce opposition to what he described as a regressive sales tax.

Shira recalled her father opening his home to clients who needed a place to stay in a pinch. He also allowed friends to board their horses at the 84-acre Creswell farm where he and Darian lived for more than two decades.

Shira said her father’s health started to deteriorate in recent months after he couldn’t kick an infection.

But at a funeral this spring, he was well enough to use his booming voice to share memories of Laura Olson, another Lane County Democrat and longtime friend, without a microphone.

“She’d want us to go out there and do something that makes the world a better place,” Shira recalled her father saying.

The Fadeleys haven’t announced plans for a memorial service. Fadeley is survived by his wife, Darian, daughter Shira and son Charles, who goes by Chuck.

Samuel Sylvester Fadeley

Found 10 Records, 2 Photos and 3,523 Family Trees

Born in Harrison, Missouri, USA on 7 Sep 1873 to Jacob Fadely and Susanah Weimer. Samuel Sylvester married Elizabeth Van Hoosier and had 3 children. Samuel Sylvester married Agnes Cunningham Stone and had a child. He passed away on 15 Oct 1954 in St Joseph, Missouri, USA.

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